Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Avrum Ehrlich's Research in Chabad (Lubavitch)


Neither am I a Chabadnikit nor against Chabad. However, when I write about different chassidic groups, I try to reflect the pros & cons. The same with Chabad where there is a huge controversy only concerning the messianic issue. 

Some time ago I read Avrum Ehrlich's book "The Messiah from Brooklyn" and found it quite interesting. Not only too one - sided as David Berger's books. Now I started reading Ehrlich's second book "Leadership in the Chabad Movement" and I found his website
Despite the books about Chabad I find Avrum Ehrlich's private profile rather disturbing: He studied in the national religious Yeshiva of Alon Shvut. A rather very open - minded religious settlement not too far away from Jerusalem. Sorry, but I cannot help it when I consider national religious Jews as not competent enough writing about the haredi / chassidic world. Furthermore it says in Ehrlich's profile that he studied at the Hartmann Institute in Jerusalem and this is even worse, as the Hartmann Institute is partially financed by Christians. 

Nevertheless, his books about Chabad seem to be well written and Avrum Ehrlich obviously invested plenty of time in his research. The question is: How much can you believe an author with such a background ?

Has anyone an answer available ? 


  1. Short answer:
    Accept the truth no matter its source.
    More info at page 215 of "A Rational Approach to Judaism and Torah Commentary" (UrimPublications)

    Some hints from the book:
    Check Maimonides introduction to Shemoneh Perakim and also Hilchot Kiddush Hachodesh 17:24.

    But then you could tell me that you don't like Rabbi Dr. Israel Drazin (the author of that book) background... ;-)

  2. B"H

    I haven't checked out the sources but doesn't sound a bit illogical to trust in sources which don't have a clear background ?
    Generally speaking, I mean.

  3. Hi Miriam,

    I have to politely disagree with your premise. Having a background with a movement or philosophy doesn't make someone more able to write a history of it. Writing the history of a movement (or its philosophy) requires much (hopefully) objective research, and the book is based on that.

    If anything, having a background in the movement may hinder the work as it causes one to approach it one-sided or with pre-conceived notions.

    Kol tuv,

  4. B"H

    One doesn't need to be chassidic in order to write about a group's history. However, it is better when you are because then you are aware of all the little tiny details around and you certainly have more insights. Not always one - sided.